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Your dating approach can increase the likelihood of forming and sustaining a connection or it can impede things from taking off. This is true whether you’re single and going on dates with a variety of potential matches or you’re in the early phases of dating one person.
Although each dating situation is unique to the people involved, there are some mistakes and behaviors that commonly get in the way. Often these mistakes are made innocently and with the best of intentions. However, they can cause chronic singlehood and trouble getting past the first couple of dates.
In other cases, these mistakes may not necessarily interfere with starting a relationship, but they may affect the quality of your relationship and the type of partner you select. Dating isn’t a science, but there are certain missteps that can ruin your chances of success when you meet someone new.
Here are six behaviors to avoid doing while dating:
Be mindful of how much room your past takes up in your head and on a date. If you’ve been hurt or had your heart broken before, it makes sense that you’re dating with caution and have your guard up a bit. It’s healthy to go slow and make sure that you’re making healthy choices.
However, if you find yourself being overly protective, anxious, closed off, or repeating old patterns, you may be stuck in the past. For example, not being over an ex or still nursing a breakup may leave you emotionally unavailable to new partners in the present.
Your willingness to go on dates is obviously important, but it takes more than physically showing up to form a connection. You need to be open and present while ensuring that your mind isn’t distracted by the past. If you find that your past is creating a barrier, get support from a licensed mental health professional.
Also, be aware that bringing up your past on early dates often doesn’t lead to a bright future together. You may believe that you’re clicking with your date over shared misery about negative past dating experiences, including infidelity, for example, but these topics are off limits while you’re still establishing rapport.
Keep your attention on each other, and create dialogue that provides information about compatibility, personality, and values.
Being dazzled by someone’s looks can cause you to ignore red flags and deal-breakers.
The harsh truth is that chemistry is not the same as compatibility, but many mistake attraction or chemistry for connection and compatibility, leading to poor partner selection, hurt feelings, and relationships that end as quickly as they start.
Chemistry without substance, understanding, and depth is not enough. Understanding that you can have a high level of physical attraction with someone who exhibits red flags will hopefully motivate you to pay attention to the whole person as opposed to getting distracted and carried away with chemistry.
Your goal is to assess if there’s an emotional and physical connection and look for potential red flags signaling that you are not a good fit. If you notice anything concerning, be sure to take these signs seriously and also follow your gut.
This advice pairs well with not jumping into bed too soon after meeting someone or forming a sexual connection prior to an emotional one. This approach will ensure that you have the ingredients for a healthy and lasting relationship with a well-suited partner.
It’s natural to want to make a positive first impression. There’s nothing more mortifying and demoralizing than rejection. In an attempt to be liked and accepted, you may assume a facade of someone you are not.
You may feel so petrified of rejection that you embellish your stories and accomplishments, and misrepresent who you are. You may not have bad intentions, but you are not being completely truthful to potential mates and are almost certainly setting yourself up for uncomfortable situations down the line.
Being genuine and truthful from the start can be scary if you’ve always felt unsure of yourself. Sometimes things get sticky if you’re asked a dreaded, embarrassing, or anxiety-provoking question early on. However, it’s better to take your time with sharing or even say something like “Let’s come back to that topic once we know each other a bit better” than to straight up lie.
Remind yourself that you want to attract a partner who chooses you for you and not for the person he or she thinks you are. Also, consider how it feels to be lied to in dating and how hurtful it is to find out someone was dishonest with you. Yes, it can feel more vulnerable to be real, but a genuine connection comes from authenticity and not fake energy.
When strong initial physical attraction is lacking on a first date, you may be tempted to cut ties and move on to other potential matches. You may feel especially closed off if you got your hopes up about someone’s appearance and the instant chemistry you hoped to feel, and then were disappointed.
However, not giving your date a chance because you aren’t sure how attracted you feel (even when you had solid rapport on the date) could be a missed opportunity. It may be hard to believe physical attraction can grow over time, but it’s important to be open to this.
Not having that “love at first sight” feeling or passionate chemistry from the very first meeting doesn’t mean that it can’t develop as you get to know each other.
If you have nothing in common and no physical attraction, move on. But, if you like your date as a person and feel you could be a match if you connected physically, be open to another date. There’s no harm in going out on a couple of dates with someone to assess if a romantic bond can grow.
Let the relationship with a new crush follow its natural course. It’s not unusual to want to spend every moment with a new love interest or be glued to your phone waiting to hear from him or her. But it’s important to pace yourself when dating someone new and respect healthy boundaries. Your excitement with a new infatuation can create some anxiety, which can lead to impulsive behavior that you may regret later.
Slow down and give yourself and your new love time to get to know one another. Rushing a relationship with constant texting, too frequent date nights, and premature sleepovers may seem like the natural course of falling in love, but it can blind you to significant differences in personalities. This is why giving your new relationship breathing room is key.
It’s easy to neglect your friends and family when you are in the throes of a new love interest. But, especially if you think this is headed toward a serious relationship, your goal should be to grow a connection through quality time and communication. Be genuine without coming on so strong that you turn your date off or you lose yourself in your relationship.
Exercise healthy boundaries in which you give your date or new boyfriend space. Avoid behaviors that are clingy, possessive, jealous, or controlling in nature. Let your relationship grow naturally without forcing or micromanaging where things are going.
New relationships can bring out a high level of analysis, especially if you’re prone to perfectionistic, picky, or anxious tendencies and are on the fence about how you feel. It can be challenging, too, if you’ve been single for awhile. You may have built up an image of what the ideal partner should be. That mindset can lead to disappointment. Get out of your head and actually be present, so you don’t fall into the trap of finding something wrong with everyone you meet.
Often the analysis is intensified if you’re overly critical of yourself and others or are protecting yourself from the sometimes scary nature of intimacy.
While it’s smart to reflect on how your date fits into your life and what type of future you hope to create, going overboard with this isn’t helpful. In fact, overthinking often leads to finding reasons not to keep dating and putting up walls that can sabotage a potentially great relationship. Getting too far ahead may lead you to box yourself into decisions that don’t need to be made yet.
Be mindful of the future so that your behavior matches your goals, but, first and foremost, focus your energy on getting to know your potential match over time and avoiding overanalysis. Don’t rush into decisions or put pressure on yourself to have everything figured out. Dating takes time, openness, and patience!
Again, each dating experience is unique, but there are common pitfalls that interfere with relationships developing and taking off. If any of the above examples of what not to do resonated with you, try not to beat yourself up, and instead commit to changing things now.
By being aware of the above dating don’ts and doing your best to avoid them, you can take proactive measures to promote dating success.